(News items like this come across my desk every week. Renewable sources could be an economic development boon for OPPD Subdistrict 4 - Rick)
Renewable energy was the biggest source of new power added to U.S. electricity grids last year as falling prices and government incentives made wind and solar increasingly viable alternatives to fossil fuels.
Developers installed 16 gigawatts of clean energy in 2015, or 68 percent of all new capacity, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said in its Sustainable Energy in America Factbook (http://www.bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook.html) released on February 4th with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. That was the second straight year that clean power eclipsed fossil fuels.
The biggest growth came from wind farms, with 8.5 gigawatts of new turbines installed as developers sought to take advantage of a federal tax credit that was due to expire at the end of 2016; Congress extended it in December.
Demand for energy, meanwhile, flatlined in the U.S. last year, holding steady even as the gross domestic product grew 2.4 percent, BNEF said. Since 2007, U.S. energy consumption has dropped 2.4 percent while GDP has grown by 10 percent.
U.S. clean energy investments rose to $56 billion last year, up 7.5 percent from 2014. The majority, $30.2 billion, went to solar. Investors pumped $11.6 billion into wind energy and $11.1 billion into technology to improve grids, boost efficiency, develop storage systems, and other ways to better manage power usage.
Power from natural gas-fired plants accounted for 25 percent of capacity added to grids last year. Nearly one third of all electricity in the U.S. is now generated by gas, putting it nearly on par with coal.
- ASME Capitol News